Jodi Hills

So this is who I am – a writer that paints, a painter that writes…


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Fortune.

In grade school we made simple origami “fortune tellers.” Parts of the “fortune teller” were labeled with numbers that served as options for a player to choose from, and on the inside were eight flaps, each concealing a message. The person operating the fortune teller manipulated the device with their fingers, based on the choices made by the player, and finally one of the hidden messages was revealed.


Oh, how everyone loved this game! And I did too! But I think what I loved most of all was the paper itself. Folded, manipulated, decorated. While everyone waited for their fortune to be told, I think I knew then that my fortune was actually in the paper itself. In the creating.


Yesterday, my publisher and I were making plans for new prints to be made on new paper. We were exchanging emails with different paper samples. And my heart ran with the wobbly legs of youth, chasing my fortune across the schoolyard playground.
Isn’t it wonderful to still be chasing! Trying new things. Learning new things. Being alive.


I hold the corners of the paper in my hand. We all do. And we choose. We choose hearts racing, and we live this glorious day!


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Leap of faith.

It’s easy to put conditions on everything. “If the sun shines today, I’ll be happy.” “If this photo gets a lot of ‘likes’ I’ll be happy.” “If I get this done…” “If she tells me this…” “If he would just…” So many conditions. And I’m guilty of it too. We all want certain things. Need certain things. But what I want to do, what I’m trying to do, is start from a place of happiness. Start from a place of gratitude. Every morning. And then let the conditions fall away. Take away my ifs and just start being. Looking only inwardly. Not comparing my life, but living my life. The only competition should be with oneself. Am I living my best life?

When I visited the Brooklyn school district, I asked each young student what they were good at. They unapologetically told me of their gifts. Not bragging, but claiming their attributes. They were young enough to enjoy the gifts. I remember feeling the same. I was 5 or 6 when I began to paint. When I began to write. Not needing any encouragement. No social media. No pressure. I would go into my bedroom and color. Paint. Draw. Write. It was me. That’s what I cling to. What I believe in. The doing. The being. It’s a good day when I enjoy the process. Get the paint on my hands. Get the words on the page. Forever young enough to enjoy the gifts.

I read to the students my story “Leap of faith.” (The story of me daring to take my first real dive off the high tower.) When I was finished, one young man came up to me, and asked a very intelligent question. “What was that really about?” he asked, knowing it was deeper than just the water. “It’s about daring to be yourself.” I replied. He smiled like he knew. “I can do that,” he said. And he ran off to join his class. I know that he can!

“I don’t know if this is going to be the day that my feet will touch the sky…but I am going to climb that tower, and I am going to be scared and I’m going to be happy, and with the wind in my hair, my heart is going to lead me…and one way or another, I am going to fly!” (from the book, Leap of faith)

I’ll see you up there!


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In a moment of happiness.

The kids and I played a game last night. Well, game is a funny word – no winners or losers, wait – I guess all winners. Anyway, we started with a blank piece of paper. One pen. One person started by drawing a line, or a shape. Passed the paper to the next one. They continued. And soon that line turned into something. For instance, a pirate — Jack Sparrow no less. We did this for an hour. Talking. Laughing. Drawing. One scrap of paper. One pen. We had so much fun.

It was not lost on me that about 5 feet away there was the Christmas tree. Gifts piled all around. So many presents. They aren’t up yet. Soon they will be rejoicing, and ripping and laughing for all the new! Before they do, I just want to spend a little more time in the moment. The moment when all it took was a connection. That moment will return. This is what I give thanks for, in the morning calm.

Now, I love a good present. Love to give them. Love to get them. I will soon gush over the purse that I picked out myself and then wrapped and put beneath the tree. But this moment. In the quiet, when I know that I already have everything, this may be the greatest gift of all.

The blessed dawn of Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas! 🎁


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Red Rover.

There was a game we played in grade school — Red Rover. The game is played between two lines of players, positioned apart from each other, with hands or arms linked together. The game starts when the first team, calls a player out, by saying or singing a line like “Red rover, red rover, send ‘insert name here’ right over.”

The immediate goal for the person called is to run to the other line and break the other team’s chain (formed by the linking of hands). If the player called fails to break the chain, they have to join that team. However, if the player successfully breaks the chain, they may select either of the broken “links” and take the link to join their team. The game continues until there is just one chain.

Today, it seems we continue to play this game – over and over – never able to successfully make one chain. I’m not saying we should all have the same beliefs in every “game.” But we should be able to come together, in the largest sense. Treat each other with kindness and respect, embrace each other, with all our differences…practice decency.

Decency. It sounds so simple: “Please” and “thank you,” “have a nice day” and “yes, you, too.” But what does it mean to be decent during a pandemic?

In Albert Camus’s The Plague, published in 1947, he writes about a plague outbreak in North Africa. In it, the physician Bernard Rieux says: “There’s no question of heroism in all this. It’s a matter of common decency. That’s an idea which may make some people smile, but the only means of fighting a plague is—common decency.”

I guess there are some lessons we have to learn over and over. But I still believe we can come together. Red Rover, Red Rover…


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Vision of youth.

We were visiting them in the US. She was maybe 5 or 6. We were playing a game at the table, and I told her (Layne), that I had to go pee-pee. Without pause she said, “Well, we use the toilet.”
I’m still laughing. It was so delightfully simple. So easy. So direct. But I guess, things don’t always have to be so difficult. Layne saw a need and filled it — that simple.


Maybe if we all kept that perspective, we could live a little easier. A little lighter. It was Picasso who said, “All children are born artists, the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.”


To be an artist is all about seeing. Whether you are a painter, a photographer, a dancer (any human really)… you have to see it, very clearly see yourself doing it, creating it. Being it. Living it with the pure vision of youth.


I painted Layne, when she was an artist – a beautiful girl, with the clearest of vision. I hope she hangs on to it, sees the world in this way — easily, clearly, with all the color and laughter it can bring!